Friday, September 19, 2008

The Guy Who Was A Ghost


A section of the backcover of Ghosts, Spooks and Spirits.

Long ago and far away, back in the days when cows were milked by hand and by yellow lantern light before they were released from their staunchions to graze in the pastures in the gray dawn, a young woman arrived to teach in the one room school that served a lonely farming settlement along a river in the deep woods.

As was the custom, she "boarded" in one of the sprawling farmsteads close to the school.

As was also the inevitable custom, the young swains of the community, after their chores were done, scraped the cowdung off their boots and slicked themselves up to visit the new "teecher."

I don't know if she was comely. She was young and she was unmarried and she was new -- and that was enough.

And so, one fine autumn evening, one strapping young fellow -- I'll call him "Jack" -- arrived to find his cousin "Elmer" sitting solidly in the farmhouse parlour, regaling the young woman, in his slow way, with an account of the time he'd found a skunk in the school's outhouse.

Jack realized that Elmer, rather than take his leave after the normal decent interval, would be determined to wait Jack out and be the last to depart. Possession of the field, so to speak. Elmer was like that.

After twenty minutes or so, Jack made his excuses and left, walked in the fitful moonlight down the narrow, tree-hung highway, past the the dim gleam of the white-painted church, creaked open the iron gate to the graveyard beyond, and waited. He knew Elmer, satisfied he'd one-upped Jack, wouldn't be long behind him.

As soon as he heard Elmer's shuffling footsteps among the leaves on the hard-packed dirt of the road, Jack took off all his clothes and crouched among the tombstones.

When Elmer arrived opposite, Jack moaned. A slow, ululating moan that grew in the still night.

When Elmer hesitated, Jack rose, his naked body glimmering pale, flung up his arms and advanced with a shriek.

Elmer fled, yowling.

Then Jack dressed himself and walked whistling back to the young teacher in the parlour.

Elmer always resented his scapegrace cousin's grin every time Elmer told his chilling tale at family gatherings about the time he'd encountered a frightful ghost. No respect for serious things, Elmer considered. But Jack was like that.

A true story, by the way.


42 comments:

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Very fun story, Bernita!

BernardL said...

Ahhh... but did Jack entrance the teacher? :)

Precie said...

Fantastic!

Sam said...

Love these ghost - posts!

;-)

writtenwyrdd said...

So this was your scapegrace relative at play? I love it!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Betsy.

Don't know, Bernard, but according to family accounts, he was adept at lifting skirt.

Thank you, Precie.

Sam, I suppose it's really a tale about a ghost that wasn't. Thank you.

Thank you, Written. One of our Black Sheep...and he never could resist making "Elmer" the goat, apparently.

Demon Hunter said...

Funny, Bernita. And true. Wow, these guys are really cousins? :-)

Bernita said...

They really were cousins, Tyhitia. Every large old family has one like "Elmer" - and one, at least, like "Jack!"

StarvingWriteNow said...

What a fun story to have in the family! I have some good ones from my dad's trooper days, but no real ghostly ones.

J. L. Krueger said...

Great story! So were the other posts about ghosts.

Every time I go to Scotland or Ireland I pick up at least one new ghost story, or a twist on an old one. They take that stuff seriously. You seldom get an odd look from a Scot if you relate some personal ghostly experience.

haunted author said...

Thanks so much for the treat!

I also love the picture- those deep blues and inky black and mysterious purples, with a hint of ghosiness. Gorgous.

Charles Gramlich said...

You root for a guy like that to win out. Elmer got what he deserved.

Vesper said...

I love it!

I also like the picture. You seem to have a lot of these books about ghosts...

raine said...

Ohhh, that gave me a big smile this morning!
Wonderful story.
I had a feeling it was true--had the sound of it!

The Anti-Wife said...

Way to go, Jack!

SzélsőFa said...

Thank you for the smile, Bernita - people in old days used to be creative in a way that is different from our times. :))

Bernita said...

Beth, Jack was quite the lad.

They didn't at home either, JL. Perhaps because one branch was Scots-English and the other Irish with a little Dutch.

Glad you liked it, Haunted.

Charles, from my mother's stories, "Elmer" was a complete pill.

Vesper, a whole wall of arcane stuff, both serious and trash.

Thank you, Raine.Glad you enjoyed it!

AW, "Jack" was big and handsome - and a hellion.
From the other side of the family was another called "Devil John." Sadly I don't know any tales about him.

Bernita said...

Pleased you enjoyed it, Szelsofa!

laughingwolf said...

so, jack win fair maid's hand?

Dave F. said...

Funny story. It's nice to have a few unusual relatives on the family tree.

I wonder if the Headless Horseman started out that way?

Bernita said...

They liven things, Dave, beyond the bare recital of birth and death dates.

If you mean the Sleepy Hollow horseman, he is likely an American re-settlement of a clan MacLaine legend about Ewan of the Little Head -- who lost his in 1538 in a trial feud and thereafter rides to harvest the souls of the Lochbuie Maclaines.

Bernita said...

I don't think he was particularly interested in her hand, Lw!

Bernita said...

Not "trial" - "tribal."
Sorry.

Lana Gramlich said...

Too much! Thanks for sharing. :)

Robyn said...

Love it.

Bernita said...

Lana, a cautionary tale. "Eldon" always believed he indeed had met a ghost.

Thank you, Robyn.

Steve Malley said...

At least Elmer fled. Imagine if he'd pointed and laughed!

Miladysa said...

I bet Jack was a right lad and got the teecher too :-D

I LOVE that book jacket!

Bernita said...

Steve, Elmer was wholly convinced. Besides he wasn't known for thinking fast. Now, if it had been Jack so confronted...

I like it very much too, Milady.
Properly sepulchral.

laughingwolf said...

no doubt! :O lol

but some folk did get wed, even in the dim past, no?

cindy said...

hahaha! what an excellent example of show don't tell. what does it say about "jack" that he'd get buck naked in the moonlight in a real cemetery to get "elmer" good?

i love it! happy weekend, b!

Bernita said...

Most assuredly, Lw, but Jack was the sort who liked to rack up a score.

Jack found other's beliefs about such things...um...useful, Cindy.
Glad you did. Thank you.

Carla said...

Great story!

laughingwolf said...

a lotta jacks in this world....

Angie said...

LOL!

Although I sort of hope that the "teecher" found someone else; I don't think I'd particularly want to marry either of them. [wry smile]

Angie

Bernita said...

Thank you, Carla.

Yep, Lw.

As far as I know, she did, Angie.

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Ah, them were the days. I was brought up on a dairy farm.
Great story and told beautifully.

Bernita said...

Suzanne, thank you!

Bhaswati said...

What a smart idea! Great story, well told, Bernita. Thanks!

Ello said...

I loved this story!!!!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Bhaswati!

Names changed to protect the guilty, Ello.

Barbara Martin said...

Yes, Bernita, there are always "Elmers" and "Jacks" in a family. Interesting and amusing story.